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Three Players to Avoid… if You Want to Win Your PPR League


Let me preface my thoughts by saying I believe all fantasy players have value. It’s just a question of the cost that you pay to draft that value. To illustrate this with a far-fetched example, I love Rueben Randle this year – but he is NOT a value pick in the 4th round. A 4th round pick already factors in Randle’s potential, but his prospects for outperforming the 4th round are remote. This is not the kind of investment we like.

The following three players are bad investments at their current average draft positions:

Vernon Davis

Few tight ends in the league possess the variety of tools that Vernon Davis possesses. He is a huge target with blazing speed – Davis truly has special talent. He made that obvious (again) last season when he caught 13 TDs in 15 games.

The problems with Davis begin with his offense. The 49ers are an extremely run-heavy team, as evidenced by the fact that the 49ers attempted the lowest number of passes in the league last year. The league average was 567 pass attempts while the 49ers attempted only 417 passes. Without opportunities, it is difficult to produce.

There is discussion that the ‘Niners will pass more during the upcoming season and I don’t disagree with it. However the impact of increased passing attempts is marginalized by having to spread the wealth between pass catchers Michael Crabtree, Stevie Johnson, and Anquan Boldin.

As evidenced by RotoViz’s Game Splits app, Vernon Davis’ statistics are severely and adversely impacted when Michael Crabtree is on the field.

Screen Shot 2014-07-18 at 10.30.09 AM

Davis is simply less involved when Crabtree plays. In 2013 with Crabtree out, Davis was targeted 84 times in 15 games last season. In 2012 with Crabtree healthy, Davis was targeted 61 times in 16 games.

If that is not sufficient, Davis is due for some meaningful regression. Before last season, 11.6 percent of his receptions were touchdowns. Last season, an incredible 25 percent of his catches resulted in touchdowns. That is obviously not  sustainable.

Davis is currently being selected with the 9th pick of the 5th round, before many players that we find more valuable. Save yourself the headache and avoid Davis.

TY Hilton

Let me preface my comments by saying, I love TY Hilton. He’s a fun player to watch, and he’s extremely explosive. My issue with TY is that last year was his opportunity to shine. With Dwayne Allen and Reggie Wayne out, the Colts were almost forced to feature Hilton and he finished 25th out of WRs in PPR scoring per game.

Currently Hilton is drafted as the 24th WR. Is he going to improve his numbers from last season? Historically Wayne’s presence has not been favorable for him.

Screen Shot 2014-07-18 at 10.30.36 AM

As you can see, Hilton is was targeted less frequently when Wayne was on the field. The Colts have also added Hakeem Nicks and Donte Moncrief while getting Dwyane Allen back from injury.

Hilton is currently being drafted ahead of Jeremy Maclin, Torrey Smith, and Mike Wallace. I’d take all of those WRs and more ahead of Hilton.

Percy Harvin

I’ll again start by saying that I love Percy Harvin. He’s arguably the best player in football with the ball in his hands. He certainly has a knack for making people miss in the open field.

The concerns with Harvin don’t arise from his abilities; the concern is with his team’s offense. Over the last two seasons, the Seahawks have attempted 825 passes – the league average over that time period is 1,123. The Seahawks have been attempting 149 fewer passes than the average NFL team.

For Harvin to have value where he’s being drafted, he will need to be targeted on about one-third of all pass attempts. If the Seahawks attempt 413 passes (their average over the past two seasons), that would amount to 136 targets. Still not that high in terms of the target leaders, but it shows how such a low volume impacts a WR’s prospects for fantasy value.

Last year as the Seahawks’ leading receiver, Golden Tate saw 23 percent of the targets, and finished with 98 targets. With the Seahawks “spread it around” philosophy and Harvin’s injury concerns, I find in unlikely that he finishes with more than 115 targets. Through two seasons, Russell Wilson has never produced a WR catching for more than 900 yards.

RotoViz’s Projection Machine can give us an unbiased projection for Harvin that falls in line with the point margin, pass and pace tendencies that the Seahawks have averaged over the past two seasons. The model estimates the following: Harvin is targeted 103 times, catching 64 passes for 915 yards and 5.3 touchdowns. In 2013, he would have finished 29th out of WRs – this does not including rushing statistics.

For Harvin, the rushing attempts are the difference maker. During his time on the Vikings, Harvin averaged 6.5% of the team’s rushing attempts. If you apply that total to the Seahawks hefty rushing attempts (2nd in the NFL last season) with the projection machine – Harvin rushes 32 times for 187 yards and finishes as WR21. It appears that would be his ceiling.

Keep in mind that the Seahawks do not have a history of handing it off to their wide receivers – Golden Tate led the Seahawks WRs with three carries last season. With Marshawn Lynch in a contract year and Christine Michael emerging, I find it unlikely that the Seahawks give Harvin more than a couple carries per game. As a sure-fire playoff team, the Seahawks have no reason to risk Harvin – an often injured player that will be essential to their playoff success this season.

Currently being drafted as WR18, Harvin is being selected ahead of Andre Johnson, Roddy White, Michael Floyd, Torrey Smith, and Mike Wallace – all guys that I consider near locks to out-target Harvin.

With so few targets to work with, Harvin is a clear avoid for me – at least at his current draft position.

When he’s not searching for ways to defeat his opponents, Mike Braude spends his time finding ways to remove the randomness of fantasy football and reward the most skilled fantasy owners. He has remedied this issue by creating Apex Fantasy Football Money Leagues.

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